Any Australian city-dweller worth their salt knows that eating is one of life’s great pleasures. A necessity that was once seen only as fuel for hungry humans, food has now become a multi-billion dollar industry and even a form of art. But city living and an understanding of where our food comes from don’t always go hand in hand. As we pay more and more for the most exquisitely formed gastronomic delights in our capital cities’ best cafés and restaurants, are we moving increasingly further away from the truth about where our food comes from?
In the 1970s and even the 80s and 90s, dinner parties in middle class households bore witness to such culinary travesties as curried sausages and apricot chicken. The farther something had travelled, the more exotic and desirable it was, and during these dark ages little thought went into the seasonality of food or the benefits of eating locally. But awareness about food miles and our carbon footprint is increasing every year in Australia. We all know that fruit tastes better when it has been allowed to ripen before being picked, and that locally grown veggies (or at least those grown somewhere in Australia) are more nutritious and more environmentally sustainable than those that have just arrived wearily off a long haul trip from Israel or Mexico.
Even in the enlightened age of 2013, Environment Victoria shockingly tells us that a typical selection of the foods we buy in Victoria has travelled an estimated 21,073 km. So why is this still the case? The answer is simple. Time. None of us have enough of it and although we all want to do the right thing for our bodies, our pockets and for the environment, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.
In this column I’ll be sharing some top tips for eating seasonally in Victoria, month by month. We are lucky enough to have the whole range of Australian climates at our fingertips here in Victoria, but will focus, where possible, on food that is truly local for us.